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Treatment burden, clinical outcomes, and comorbidities in COPD: an examination of the utility of medication regimen complexity index in COPD

Authors Negewo NA, Gibson PG, Wark PAB, Simpson JL, McDonald VM

Received 8 March 2017

Accepted for publication 29 August 2017

Published 6 October 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 2929—2942


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Netsanet A Negewo,1,2 Peter G Gibson,1–3 Peter AB Wark,1–3 Jodie L Simpson,1,2 Vanessa M McDonald1–4

1Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs, 2Hunter Medical Research Institute, Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, 3Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, 4School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

Background: COPD patients are often prescribed multiple medications for their respiratory disease and comorbidities. This can lead to complex medication regimens resulting in poor adherence, medication errors, and drug–drug interactions. The relationship between clinical outcomes and medication burden beyond medication count in COPD is largely unknown.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the relationships of medication burden in COPD with clinical outcomes, comorbidities, and multidimensional indices.
Methods: In a cross-sectional study, COPD patients (n=222) were assessed for demographic information, comorbidities, medication use, and clinical outcomes. Complexity of medication regimens was quantified using the validated medication regimen complexity index (MRCI).
Results: Participants (58.6% males) had a mean (SD) age of 69.1 (8.3) years with a postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second % predicted of 56.5 (20.4) and a median of five comorbidities. The median (q1, q3) total MRCI score was 24 (18.5, 31). COPD-specific medication regimens were more complex than those of non-COPD medications (median MRCI: 14.5 versus 9, respectively; P<0.0001). Complex dosage formulations contributed the most to higher MRCI scores of COPD-specific medications while dosing frequency primarily drove the complexity associated with non-COPD medications. Participants in Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease quadrant D had the highest median MRCI score for COPD medications (15.5) compared to those in quadrants A (13.5; P=0.0001) and B (12.5; P<0.0001). Increased complexity of COPD-specific treatments showed significant but weak correlations with lower lung function and 6-minute walk distance, higher St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire and COPD assessment test scores, and higher number of prior year COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations. Comorbid cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, or metabolic diseases individually contributed to higher total MRCI scores and/or medication counts for all medications. Charlson Comorbidity Index and COPD-specific comorbidity test showed the highest degree of correlation with total MRCI score (ρ=0.289 and ρ=0.326; P<0.0001, respectively).
Conclusion: In COPD patients, complex medication regimens are associated with disease severity and specific class of comorbidities.

Keywords: medication burden, medication counts, complex pharmacotherapy, clinical scores

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